The Stony Brook University Alumni Association held a memorial ceremony on the Academic Mall on Tuesday, Sept. 11, to honor the members of the Stony Brook community who were killed in the 2001 9/11 attacks.
The event was held to promote the “most basic ideals of freedom and equality,” as explained by the invitation sent to the entire campus community via campus announcements.
The ceremony began at 8:46 a.m. with the tolling of the campus bell 21 times, inviting students, faculty and staff to partake in a moment of silence. That time was chosen to mark the precise moment 17 years ago when the first plane flew into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. The 21 bell chimes symbolized the 21 alumni who lost their lives during the attacks.
The Alumni Association handed out pinwheels with American flag print for passersby to plant in the small grassy patch between the Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library and the Student Activities Center.
Associate Director of Alumni Relations, Janet Masini, explained that the ceremony has changed over the years from a formal event to a simple pinwheel garden, which was introduced five years ago.
“We do think it turns out to be this beautiful memorial that our entire community has contributed to,” Masini said, explaining how she thought the memorial was deep in its simplicity. “We want to honor them, we want to remember them and we want to respect their memory.”
Junior political science major and president of the Stony Brook College Democrats, Cecelia Masselli, was one of the many people who stopped to pay her respects.
“I think it is important to remember,” Masselli said. “I think that, too often, we forget history and this is still pretty recent history. We see many things to remember 9/11 now, and I hope that we will continue to do the same in the future.”
Though many students were too young to remember that day in detail, for journalism assistant professor Karen Masterson — who was working as a journalist in Washington D.C. at the time — 9/11 is still fresh in her memory.
“I used to take the highway from Arlington to D.C. when I was working there,” she said. “I was driving to work when I saw this thick black smoke, and I had no idea what was going on. Then, my editor called me and asked me to pack my bags to go to New York. I was on the road when the plane hit the Pentagon. I was pulling my car over when I got a call saying I need to get to the White House because it was possible that it could get hit any moment. So, I went, and I was so focused on being a reporter that I did not realise the risk I was taking by going there.”
Over 400 pinwheels were planted according to volunteers from the Alumni Association. By the end of the event at 2:30 p.m., the patch on the Academic Mall was almost filled with flag-printed pinwheels.
“I think it’s good to make a statement on campus for people to remember what a horrible time it was.” Jessica Caliendo, a freshman undecided major, said. “People walk by and they remember what it was like to be there if they were there and if not, it kind of just plants that significance in their minds. This way, we will never forget. It’s beautiful.”